Most of us have preconceptions about the places we visit. Unfortunately stereotyping exists all around the world.
Us Brits are known for drinking tea, complaining about the weather and being quite reserved; (some would even say impolite). Not the best qualities are they, but you have to laugh about how you’re viewed by others or you won’t get out alive!
Before my trip to Paris I was honestly (and perhaps shamefully) expecting people to be rude and dismissive. My French is only so so, But I get by. Many welcomed my attempts. I’m practically fluent though after a few vin de pays, but that’s another story.
I expected much of the city to be quite dirty, ugly even, but again these are opinions I’ve formed merely by listening to others. Bad I know.
So,I lay my head in the northern region of Paris- Montmatre. It’s not the best part of Paris, but there’s a real cultural mix of people here. There also a real buzz about this place. Bang in the middle of its tacky shops, in the sex district, it did feel a little unsafe at night but nothing I couldn’t handle.
I visited Western Paris, including the Eiffel Tower yesterday, and marvelled at the sheer size of it! I didn’t go up as I don’t like really like heights but I got some great photos from a monument with steps South of the tower which I don’t know the name of. I walked across the pont-neuf and did the touristy thing of padlocking my padlock to “Love lock bridge.” I threw my key in the river and made a wish.
I then walked to St-Germain which was by far my favourite part of Paris. Really cool, artsy and just so electric and dazzling. I’ve eaten. There’s no question!Steaks, cheeses, my body weight in French fries, but it’s just the thing to do here (and drink wine in copious amounts before lunch time).
Overall I found the Parisians to be kind and helpful. I’ve had wonderful conversations- one lady spoke to me about how much she loves London and wants to study there next year, another helped me find my way back to my hostel with her French Google maps when I was completely and utterly lost. Every barman charged my phone for me while I waited and drank coffee and people were just generally charming towards me.
Some of the men I found very bold and agressive. They flirt with intent and are not shy about trying to obtain your number. Perhaps this is a good thing as opposed to beating around the bush. I don’t know.
Yesterday I was riding the metro (which is super efficient) and there were many musicians busking including this lady singing who sounded like a drowned cat. Everyone on the train from all over the world was giggling away. It made me think at that very moment that we are one race, we are fundamentally all the same. Wherever we live in the world we still feel the same emotions. We all laugh and cry in the same language. There may be language barriers but if you watch very carefully you can understand anyone just by paying a little attention to them.
Paris isn’t all visually beautiful, but it doesn’t need to be. It oozes charm and eloquence anyway. I can see why they named it “The city of love” but you don’t need a lover to have a good time here. You can just as easily enjoy a short personal romance with the city.